Thousands converge on Wadmalaw for Irvin-House Vineyards ninth annual Grape Stomp
WADMALAW ISLAND — Three young nurses from Charlottesville, Va., made the drive all the way to the Lowcountry this weekend to try their hand — er, feet — at making wine in the ninth annual Grape Stomp at Irvin-House Vineyards on Saturday.
But only one could stomp, while the other had to scoop the juice of half-barrels and the third just had to watch in the first heat of two adult stomping contests.
How did they decide which one stomped?
“She has the better thigh muscles,” said Kayla Reynolds of Ashley Viars, “so we volunteered her to be the stomper.”
Viars quickly noted, though, that the job of scooper was harder. And certainly messier.
In three contests, including one for kids, the scoopers got squirted and sprayed with juice as the stompers crushed freshly harvest muscadines, a grape native to the Southeast that the vineyard has harvested for wine for nearly a decade.
As each four-minute contest progressed, the aroma of the super sweet grapes rose through the air of the stage.
The winners of the adult stomping competition were two teachers from Orange Grove Elementary School — Kerry Sturm and Candyce Lyon — who managed to stomp and collect 1.3 pounds of muscadine juice in four minutes.
Despite Irvin-House’s presence in the Lowcountry, vineyard co-owner Jim Irvin said people still are surprised that wine is made from grapes in the hot, humid summers here. The festival is much a part of building awareness, as it is celebrating life and local agriculture.
“It (the festival) means, to me, sharing our farm with all these families. This is a family event and everyone has a good time,” said Irvin, adding that the event grows about 20 percent every year.
He estimated Saturday’s attendance at 2,300 to 3,000. It was certainly helped by the weather, which was unseasonably cool and dry for late August.
Among the masses were Karen Innella and Pam McCann of North Charleston, who certainly stood out in the crowd. The women, along with other members of their belly dancing troupe, Ancient Echoes, dressed in costumes that looked part belly dancer and part grapevine, complete with fake grapes dangling from their heads.
They became a photo op for many of those sprawling underneath oaks listening the music of Mac Leaphart and My Ragged Company.